Fox News host Tucker Carlson is reiterating his claim that the National Security Agency is spying on him as the intelligence agency has denied his earlier claim that it is targeting him in an effort to take him off the air.
The broadcast journalist first asserted Monday that the Biden administration was snooping on him. He said an intelligence community whistleblower told him he was aware of the content in private exchanges that only Carlson would know.
He further alleged that the NSA was spying on his team’s electronic communications and was planning to leak them to remove his show from the air. Carlson insisted again on Tuesday that the government was surveilling him and said that a statement from the NSA contesting his assertion “did not deny” his specific claims.
“The whistleblower, who is in a position to know, repeated back to us information about a story that we are working on that could have only come directly from my texts and emails,” Carlson stressed Tuesday.
“There’s no other possible source for that information, period,” he said, noting that he had a conversation with NSA officials Tuesday that was “Orwellian.”
In a statement, the NSA said that the Fox News broadcaster was not targeted for surveillance. The statement stressed that Carlson's claim that the NSA is "monitoring our communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air" is "untrue."
“Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air,” the agency stressed.
"NSA has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States. With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting."
Speaking with journalists aboard Air Force One Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki echoed the NSA’s statement when asked about Carlson's claim. She noted that the agency is “an entity that focuses on foreign threats and individuals who are attempting to do us harm on foreign soil.”
“So that is their purview. But beyond that, I would point you to the intelligence community,” Psaki said.
Carlson was not moved by the NSA's response. He claimed that the agency's statement did not answer the main question: "Did the Biden administration ready my personal emails?"
"That's the question was asked to NSA officials when we spoke to them in a very heated conversation. Again, they refused to say," Carlson said. "Then, they refused to explain why they couldn't answer that simple question: 'We can't tell you and we can't tell you why we can't tell you.'"
"The message was clear: 'We can do whatever we want. We can read your personal texts. We can read your personal emails. We can send veiled threats your way to brush you back if we don't like your politics. We can do anything. We are our own country and there is literally nothing you can do about it. We are in charge, you're not.' Orwellian does not begin to describe the experience. It is like living in China."
The ways intelligence agencies can surveil people domestically in an era of increased international terrorism remains a point of consternation among civil libertarians who often argue against government overreach.
Civil rights attorney Harmeet Dhillon explained on Carlson’s show Tuesday that several ways exist for the NSA to defend its actions, particularly since the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
The military-industrial complex and the national security apparatus have justified their activities by saying that they are focusing on foreigners, but any data gathered from U.S. citizens is deemed "incidental," Dhillon said.
“If they’re able to get a surveillance order on an individual, what they’re able to do is scoop up all of the people who reach out to that person, text them even without any predicate. So that’s really where it’s at; that’s a huge dragnet,” she said.
When these questionable security agency actions are challenged in court, she said cases last many years with no meaningful resolution.
Dhillon subsequently noted on social media that the NSA’s statement asserting Carlson was not a “target” does not mean it did not read his text messages and emails. She contends the rest of the statement is deceptive “trust me" theater.